Sunday, 23 June 2013

Roger de Potigny: Meeting with Arnulf, bishop of Lisieux, following Council of Westminster, 1163

Extract from

[30.] Per idem tempus Arnulfus Lexoviensis episcopus mari transito ad regem quem offenderat venit, cupiens si quomodo posset eum sibi placabilem facere. Quumque per omnia eum demulcens ei placentia loqueretur, etiam contra archiepiscopum ei consilium dare non timuit: dixit enim ad regem Controversia quae inter te et archiepiscopum vertitur difficilis est et vix finienda: impossibile namque estarchiepiscopum tibi subjici, quamdiu unanimes et in eadem cum eo sententia suffraganei sui fuerint; quapropter si omnes ab eo avellere non potueris, saltem aliquos de numero eorum tibi quoquo modo applicare satage: quo facto non facile pars reliqua subsistere poterit. Faventibus enim tibi episcopis, si solus archiepiscopus in sententia pertinaciter perstare decreverit, non solum non obtinebit, verum etiam suspensionis literas, procurantibus episcopis, facile incurrere poterit. Tali igitur instructus rex consilio, vocavit ad se apud Glocestriam quos flexibiliores inter episcopos credidit, Rogerum scilicet Eboracensem et Lincolniensem episcopum, egitqiie cum eis quatenus ad confirmationem suarum consuetudinum parati essent: promittens se nihil ab eis exacturum, quod eorum ordini obviaret. Cesserunt itaque illi duo spondentes regi secundum quod voluit. Nec multo post rex Hilarium Cicestrensem episcopum suae parti sociavit. Quo facto, venit idem Hilarius ad archiepiscopum apud Lentham; coepitque ei suadere quod persuadere non potuit, quatenus scilicet regi ad voluntatem faveret, asserens ei multum hoc per omnem modum expedire. Erat namque mirabilis in literatura: habens verba multa polita et suasoria. Archiepiscopus vero qui non quae sua sed quse Jesu Christi erant quaerebat: Absit, inquit, ut tali commercio terreni regis gratiam redimam; exponendo ei ecclesiam quam rex coelestis sanguine proprio comparavit: tu autem et Lincolniensis cum Eboracense, utinam non impune, venales, vel potius quantum in vobis est irritas feceritis ecclesiasticas sanctiones: promittentes regi vos ejus consuetudines servaturos, quae sanctorum canonibus patrum usquequaque noscuntur adversari. Verumtamen quicquid nos feceritis vel alii forte sint facturi, me in tam horrendam prsesumptionem nunquam consortem habebitis. Ad hsec Hilarius, Rogo, inquit, te quod est hoc tam horrendum tamque grande malum; quod tu solus in hoc facto vides et intelligis: et nullus alius tecum? Rogavit nos rex ut in hoc verbo ei deferremus, eumque honoraremus: promittens etiam ipse nobis, quod nunquam hujus concessionis causa aliquid a nobis exquireret quod ordini nostro resultet. Estne, quaeso, hoc tam grande malum tamque enormis praesumptio: dominum suum honorare? Et archiepiscopus: Non est enim malum quinimo bonum dominum suum honorare, dummodo Deus non inhonoretur: et ecclesia sancta non perturbetur; neque periclitetur: illud autem certissime noveritis: quod rex a vobis exiget quicquid ei promisistis: vos autem ut stet in promissis eum cogere non potestis.

At about the same time Arnulf, bishop of Lisieux, crossed over the sea to visit the king whom he had offended, desiring, if it were possible, to see if he could placate him in anyway. And, by every means he spoke caressingly and pleasingly to the king, even against the archbishop: unafraid to give advice, he said, "the controversy between yourself and the archbishop has turned into a difficulty, not easily stopped. It is impossible for the archbishop to submit to you as long as his own suffragan bishops are of one mind and speak the same sentences as he. And therefore, if you cannot tear all of them away from him, at least tear a number of those who are in any way supplicant to you: it will not be easy for the remainder to hold fast once you get these bishops in your favour. And, if the archbishop is then alone in his stubborn persistence, not only will he not be strong, it might be truly possible for the bishops to obtain letters of suspension."

Accepting this advice, the king summoned to himself at Gloucester those from among the bishops who could be swayed, namely, Roger [archbishop] of York, and the bishop of Lincoln, and asked them how far they they would be prepared to go in confirming his customs, assuming beforehand he would exact nothing from them, which might oppose their order. Thus did the king obtain promises from those two, which pleased him. Soon afterwards his party was joined by Hilary of Chichester.

When this was done, this same Hilary went to the archbishop at Lenham [in Kent]: and he began to urge as he could not persuade him, inasmuch one may know how to favour the will of the king asserting to him much of expediency. He clearly demonstrated that he was a miracle of book learning, using many refined and persuasive words [rhetoric?].

The archbishop, who not which from his own but sought from Jesus Christ. "The Lord forbid," he said, "that with such trade in lands I might buy back the grace of this earthly king," having also explained to him this when compared the church and heavenly king had bought his with his own blood.
"You, however, and Lincoln, together with York, have been not only bought with bribes, and rather much is rendered ineffective as you might be made to suffer ecclesiastic penalties [excommunication], concerning the promises which you have made to the king about preserving his customs, which are recognised as being wholly against the holy canons of the fathers [of the church]. But yet whatever you might have done to us or others soon may strongly be doing to me in so horrible presumption at no time you have shared."

To this Hilary said, "I ask what is it that is so horrendous and evil which you alone in this matter have seen and understood, and nobody else but you? The king said to us using these words, that we should defer to him, and honour him, himself also promising us, that at no time would these concessions be the cause of something which he would use to seek and rebound on our order."

And the archbishop said, "Indeed it is not bad, but rather is good to honour one's lord, provided God is not dishonoured, and holy church is neither unsettled, nor imperilled. Nonetheless this you will most certainly come to know that the king will exact from you whatever you have promised to him, but you, however, will remain with promises you will not be able to collect from him."

See also
Michael Staunton (7 December 2001). The Lives of Thomas Becket. Manchester University Press. pp. 85–. ISBN 978-0-7190-5455-6.


Carolyn Poling Schriber (1 October 1990). The dilemma of Arnulf of Lisieux: new ideas versus old ideals. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-35097-8

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